Vineyards: 1,900 acres (768 hectares)
Top Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay
Average Annual Precipitation: 6-8 inches
The Royal Slope is a south-facing slope surrounding the town of Royal City. Compared to the Wahluke Slope, which lies about 15 miles to the south, the Royal Slope is considerably cooler. Compared to the Ancient Lakes appellation, which lies directly to the north and with which it shares a boundary, the Royal Slope is considerably warmer.
Elevation is one of the key differentiators of the Royal Slope, ranging from 610 feet above sea level in the southeast corner to 1,756 feet at the top of the Frenchmen Hills ridge. The latter is considerably higher than surrounding growing regions. Planting at higher elevations extends the growing season, delays ripening, and also helps retain natural acidity. This variability in elevation also allows a wide range of varieties and styles to excel.
Wine grape vines were first planted on the Royal Slope in 1983. There are 13 commercial vineyards dispersed throughout the AVA and one bonded winery. The area is also home to a substantial amount of tree fruit acreage as well as row crops.
The Royal Slope, which is part of the Yakima Fold Belt that comprises a number of eastern Washington’s grape growing regions, has the distinction of producing Washington’s first 100 point Syrah from Stoneridge Vineyard. The growing region is wholly contained within the Columbia Valley and is located between Quincy Basin and the Saddle Mountains.